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Six questions about your Will

Periodically, it’s a good idea to run through a little checklist to make sure your last Will and Testament is ready to go. Here are some questions to ask.

1. Is my Will up to date?
This is an important question because many people have a Will tucked away someplace, a Will that is so outdated as to be practically useless. In fact, an out-of-date Will can actually cause more problems for your loved ones than not having a Will at all. Tax laws change and the size and extent of your assets may have changed as well. Updating your Will allows you to take advantage of recent tax developments and new techniques in estate planning.

2. Does my Will represent my wishes?
Your family situation may have changed over the years so that you no longer have dependents at home. Perhaps your estate has grown beyond your earlier estimates. Maybe you‘ve changed your mind about some of your bequests. The more time that passes and the more changes that occur in your life, the more you should consider bringing your Will “up to speed.”

3. Is my Will valid?
Have you moved to a different state since creating your last Will? The laws may differ and your old Will may be invalid. Or maybe you prepared your own Will and missed something of vital importance, like proper signatures. Considering the importance of your last Will and Testament, it makes good sense to have a reputable estate planning attorney review your current Will or even draft you a new one.

4. Is my Will safely stored? Where do you keep the original copy of your Will? Is it safely tucked away in a fireproof home safe? Or is it in a file folder some place, or even in an old shoebox under the bed? This is a precious document and should be either in a bank safety deposit box or some other place where it is protected from fire and thievery.

5. Does my representative know where my Will is?
After selecting a safe place to store your Will, be sure to tell your personal representative where to find it. Imagine the frustration and added grief by being unable to fulfill your wishes in settling your estate. Besides informing your representative about your Will (and maybe even giving him or her an access key or combination), you might also provide a list of accounts, assets and funeral instructions, along with the Will.

There is a sixth question you might also consider:
6. Have I included the Jewish community in my estate plan?
If and when you do update your Will – or maybe prepare one for the first time – consider adding a charitable bequest provision for a Jewish organization.
There are many innovative ways you can devise an estate gift to create a Jewish legacy and make a difference in our Jewish community for generations to come.

Your Will should benefit the individuals you care about most deeply and could also assure a quality Jewish future. If this resonates with you, feel free to call me for a confidential meeting.

Jackie Jacobs is the Executive Director of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Central Ohio Jewish community’s planned giving and endowment headquarters.

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